First of all, thank you so much for all of the congratulations and warm wishes over the past few days. Any fears or apprehensions we had about adding another child to our family were wiped away the minute we held Violet. While Clay had to leave 10 days after Weston was born, this time around his command granted him 10 days of paternity leave – the two experiences have been night and day. I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have Clay around, I know it isn’t a guarantee with the military lifestyle so we’re soaking it in while we can.
And speaking of night and day experiences, I thought I’d share my birth story this time around. You’ll notice that I truncated this entry so if you’re not interested in reading about it (I completely understand!), then don’t click through. Don’t worry – it doesn’t go into the true nitty gritty of birth, if you catch my drift. Nonetheless, for those planning on stopping here, please enjoy this picture I took last night that I found too sweet not to share…
Disclaimer: While this post will refrain from graphic imagery and descriptions, it will discuss some of the not-so-pleasant aspects of labor. Read at your own risk. Oh, and it is a long post. Sorry about that!
Background: My labor with Weston was 6 hours from start to finish – relatively short for a first-time mother. I went to my 39-week appointment and was told to head next door to the birth center because I was in active labor (unbeknownst to me). I didn’t have a specific birth plan, other than to last as long as I could without requesting pain medication or an epidural. I ended up lasting until about I was 7cm dilated.
Once the epidural was in place, my OB broke my water and then it was go-time. Weston arrived after two pushes. I had the epidural for roughly 30 minutes before the little guy was born. The actual birthing process was excellent but I did not enjoy the recovery process associated with the epidural. Because I received it only 30 minutes prior to Weston being born, it took forever for the effects to wear off and I absolutely despised not being able to walk immediately after delivery. So this time around when people would ask if I was considering an epidural, I would respond that I would like to see if I could go without but at the end of the day, I’d get one if I felt necessary.
39 Weeks Pregnant: Because I didn’t make it to my due date with Weston, I (foolishly?) assumed that I wouldn’t with Violet. At my 39 week appointment (July 11th), the nurses were surprised to see me just based on already being 4cm dilated, 100% effaced, with a super-engaged baby girl. I scheduled a NST for my estimated due date (July 15th) and an ultrasound for the day after to check fluid levels and left the office feeling like I was going to be pregnant forever. Since about 36 weeks, every Braxton Hicks contraction and every slight cramp had me wondering, “Is this it? Is this real labor?” because I was encouraged to head to Labor & Delivery the minute a contraction became painful due to my relatively quick first labor and the fact that my body was seemingly geared and ready to go. And because my water didn’t break on it’s own with Weston, I just assumed that the same would happen this time around. Noticing a pattern here?
last pregnant picture – taken July 12, 2013
July 12, 2013: Who knows whether any of the following things contributed to my labor but on Friday, July 12th I did the following…
- Had a pineapple, mango, and kiwi smoothie for breakfast (tropical fruits are rumored to have labor-inducing qualities).
- Drank raspberry leaf tea (drinking at least one cup a day since 36 weeks).
- Took two Evening Primrose Oil tablets (doing so since 36 weeks).
- Walked around the mall with my mom and Weston.
- Ate a spicy chicken sandwich for lunch.
- Did 5 sets of 20 squats (100 total) throughout the day.
- Did 5 sets of 50 jumping jacks (250 total) throughout the day.
- Took a 2 mile walk with Clay around 8:00pm in about 90 degree weather.
- Ate greasy New York style pizza for dinner.
- Took a nice warm bath at 9:30pm.
- Went to bed at 10:30pm.
July 13, 2013: I woke up at 12:45am craving TUMS (probably due to my highly acidic, spicy, and greasy diet on the 12th) and soon as I climbed back into bed, I felt a ‘pop‘. I quickly jumped out of bed and my water broke a’la Hollywood-style. As soon as I said Clay’s name, he darted out of bed asking “Is it time?” Needless to say, he had been on high alert for quite some time and was just waiting for the go-ahead to spring into action.
We woke my mom up and spent the next 15 minutes grabbing the last minute items for our already packed hospital bag, being sure to use the checklist on Clay’s nightstand (I highly recommend a checklist for last minute items…we didn’t even forget our cell phone chargers, which we’re apt to do!). At this time (around 1:10am), I wasn’t feeling any contractions, just some mild cramping. My mom insisted that we stop double checking everything and get ourselves to the hospital as soon as possible (she figured this labor would be fast too). After giving a sleeping Weston a kiss, we did just that.
I called my OB’s answering service as Clay merged onto I-395 and that is when I felt the first tell-tale true contraction. I could still talk through the contraction but it was not pleasant. During the 15 minute drive to the hospital, I had 6 contractions that lasted between 45 – 60 seconds. Each one increased with intensity. Clay offered to drop me off at the entrance but I assured him that walking from the parking lot would do me some good. By the time we reached Labor & Delivery, I could no longer talk through the contractions and the pain was intense. Clay took charge in answering the last minute questions as I struggled to breath through the pain. As I was being hooked up to the contraction monitors in the intake area, I explained to the nurse that my contractions were intense and I thought things were progressing quickly. Now I realize that nurses probably hear this a lot from women who are only a couple of centimeters dilated but I couldn’t help but feel a bit vindicated when she expressed surprise that I was already 6cm. By now it was about 1:50am and I was wheeled into the delivery room. At that point, the nurses told me that they couldn’t order an epidural into the OB arrived.
At 2:00am, my OB walked into the room just as I was finishing the most painful contraction yet while a nurse attempted to hook up an IV. After a quick hello to my OB, I told her that I felt the urge to push with that last contraction so she checked me and said that I was ready to push. As much as I’d like to report that I was totally in control of my pain, breathing, and 100% comfortable delivering a baby without any sort of drugs to help take the edge off, I’d be lying. I was terrified. Thank goodness for Clay. Every time I would cry out, “I can’t do this. It’s too hard. It hurts too much“, he would reassure me that I was strong, my body was built for this, and that I was able to push through the pain. Basically, he was (and still is) my loudest cheerleader and biggest support. The nurses and my OB were also great sources of encouragement. My first couple of pushes were completely useless and it took about 15 minutes for me figure out the rhythm needed to deliver a baby. I regrouped and approached the final few pushes with pure raw determination. For me, the most painful part was the feeling of Violet being stuck before the final push. The much talked about ‘ring of fire’ was welcomed relief to what I felt seconds earlier. And before we knew it, our daughter was born at 2:34am. Violet was 8 pounds even and 20 inches long.
She was placed on me immediately after birth. Interesting fact – her umbilical chord was pretty short so she wasn’t able to reach my chest and had to rest on my lower stomach instead. Clay and I marveled at our creation as the nurses wiped Violet down while she was still on me. Clay cut the chord and carried Violet over to be weighed and measured. At that point, the OB informed me that I required no stitches and when I looked down at my deflated stomach, I didn’t see any horrific stretch marks (what can I say, I’m vain). After I delivered the placenta, we were taken to our recovery room, where Clay took the following picture…
During the chaos that ensued in the delivery room, Clay managed to snap two pictures with his iPhone. Let’s just say that those pictures will not be seen by the Internet! Although since they were taken on an iPhone, someone in China has probably already downloaded them to their computer. Oh well. For those keeping track, Violet was born 1 hour and 49 minutes after my water broke, and approximately 1 hour after we arrived at the hospital. The nurses joked that if we decide to have a third kid, I better be prepared to deliver at home.
At the end of the day, I am happy that I was able to experience giving birth without an epidural or drugs, even if it wasn’t necessarily by choice. The pain was overwhelming at times but I felt amazing in the hours after delivery. And of course, our little girl was worth every single second of the not-so-fun pregnancy and her crazy delivery.